Integrated conservation and development project life cycles in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal: Is development overpowering conservation?
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The merits of integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs), which aim to provide development incentives to citizens in return for conservation behaviors, have long been debated in the literature. Some of the most common critiques suggest that conservation activities tend to be strongly overpowered by development activities. We studied this assertion through participant observation and archival analysis of five Conservation Area Management Committees (CAMCs) in the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA), Nepal. Committee activities were categorized as conservation activities (policy development and conservation implementation), development activities (infrastructure, health care, education, economic development, and sanitation), or activities related to institutional strengthening (administrative development and capacity building activities). Greater longevity of each ICDP was associated with greater conservation activity in relation to development activities. Project life cycles progressed from a focus on development activities in their early stages, through a transitional period of institutional strengthening, and toward a longer-term focus that roughly balanced conservation and development activities. Results suggest that the ICDP concept, as practiced in ACA, has been successful at building capacity for and interest in conservation amongst local communities. However, success has come over a period of nearly a decade, suggesting that prior conclusions about ICDP failures may have been based on unrealistic expectations of the time needed to influence behavioral changes in target populations.
KeywordsAnnapurna Biodiversity conservation Community-based conservation Gender ICDP Nepal Protected area management
We benefited from interacting with CAMC and VDC chairs and appreciate their time and able leadership. We would like to thank the secretaries of the CAMCs who generously made available documents necessary for this study. Members of the committees were always enthusiastic about our queries and rendered help in setting up appointments. Special thanks go to Mr. Som Ale for inspiring this project, to Mrs. Ranju Baral, who helped in translating and entering the data, and to Mr. Rupesh Shrestha, who assisted in preparing the GIS map of the study area. The first author appreciates the synergy and company of the Ghandruk office team for the duration of the fieldwork. He also wishes to thank ACAP and the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation for providing an opportunity to serve the people of the Annapurna region.
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